The Phillies will not make a bid to negotiate with Japanese third baseman Akinori Iwamura, according to a report in today’s Inquirer.
Iwamura, Japan's starting third baseman at the World Baseball Classic, hit .311/.388/.543 in 145 games for the Yakult Swallows, including 32 homers, 27 doubles and 77 RBI. Nicknamed 'Top Gun' (maybe just on Beerleaguer), he’s also earned the Japanese equivalent of baseball’s gold glove award.
-- There have been several reports now that say Wes Helms or Mark DeRosa are being targeted to platoon with Abraham Nunez at third. DeRosa could earn a starting job elsewhere, including an opportunity to start at second with the Cubs.
-- According to the Houston Chronicle, the Astros are seeking one more veteran starter, preferably Woody Williams or Phillies free agent Randy Wolf. The article also makes mention of outfielder Gary Sheffield as a possibility to upgrade their offense.
-- Speaking of Sheffield, the Astros, along with the Padres, Rangers, Indians and Tigers, have shown the strongest interest in the 38-year-old, according to the New York Post. The Orioles dangled Kris Benson and a reliever for him, but were rejected. Among other names being mentioned as bait include Houston closer Brad Lidge and center fielder Willy Taveras. Houston is also said to have interest in Cincinnati's Adam Dunn, a Houston native who is available.
-- Less then a month after his hire, Phillies third base coach Art Howe has been given permission to speak with the Rangers about becoming their bench coach. The Rangers named long-time Oakland coach Ron Washington as their manager yesterday.
-- Aaron Rowand may be unsigned and arbitration eligible, but there is a solid belief is he will be here next season. Why? "He's going to be here," Gillick said.
-- Sally League right-hander Carlos Carrasco was named top prospect in the Phillies system by TopProspectAlert.com. Carrasco, who’s been compared to Tony Armas Jr., went 12-6 with a 2.26 ERA and 159 strikeouts for the BlueClaws. The ranking matches the way Baseball America seems to be leaning. Carrasco was the Phillies highest-rated player by position in their latest issue.
-- Phillies infielder Alex S. Gonzalez, who was reinstated from the voluntary retired list, filed for free agency yesterday.
-- Final thoughts: Co-workers keep asking who the Phillies will get this offseason, and my answer is always Sheffield. My belief is the Phils will be outbid for Alfonso Soriano, who doesn’t appear to have a preference as to where he goes, and has turned negotiations over to his agent. The Phillies are believed to be willing to take it to the limit, but I don't believe that. There is a number they will not cross. They'll fall back on Sheffield for a year, and I don't know that it's a crime, as long as they're careful of who they trade to get him.
Sheffield is said to have a list of preferences, but the Yankees have every intention of dealing him on their own terms, regardless of his wishes. On a positive note, he’d essentially play for another contract somewhere. I'm borderline okay on the idea of a Sheffield rental, because long-term commitments have hurt the Phillies much, much more. They're only now starting to see the light of day from a failed era of overreaching contracts.